Boycott of world chess championship ‘would hurt women in Iran’

Source: The Guardian

Leading player urges contenders to look beyond hijab law, to the boost contest would give women’s sport in country

Mitra Hejazipour, a Woman Grandmaster Iranian chess player
Mitra Hejazipour, pictured, said: ‘These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.’ Photograph: Maria Emelianova

One of Iran’s most respected chess players has hit back at calls to boycott next year’s women’s world championship in Tehran over rules about the wearing of the hijab.

A number of chess players, including the US women’s champion, Nazí Paikidze, have called for a boycott of the February 2017 games over concerns that they will have to comply with the Islamic republic’s compulsory headscarf law.

But Mitra Hejazipour, a woman grandmaster (WGM) who won the 2015 Asian continental women’s championship, told the Guardian on Friday that a boycott would be wrong and could undermine hard-fought efforts to promote female sport in Iran.

“This is going to be the biggest sporting event women in Iran have ever seen; we haven’t been able to host any world championship in other sporting fields for women in the past,” Hejazipour, 23, said from Tehran. “It’s not right to call for a boycott. These games are important for women in Iran; it’s an opportunity for us to show our strength.”

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